Garden Spot - v4.2

Garden Spot

erica's gardening journal

Friday, August 30, 2002

Toad at Home.

toad toad

posted by Erica | 8:55 PM
Toad Hole. last fall, when we started "exploring" the backyard of our new home, we discovered a hole below the liriope that rings an oak tree. the liriope ring has apparently been around the tree for several years and has built up about six inches above the level of the yard. the hole was (is) two or three inches in diameter, of indeterminate depth (*i'm* not about to stick my fingers in there!) and sheltered by the liriope.

yesterday afternoon i happened to reach down in front of the hole to pick up some tree debris and noticed what looked like a brown leaf in the hole. looking more closely i realized that it was, in fact, a large-ish toad. i'll try to remember to look this afternoon and see whether he's still there.

not surprisingly, texas (and houston) is home to all sorts of frogs and toads. my (somewhat uneducated) guess is that the aforementioned toad is either a gulf coast toad or a woodhouse's toad. it would be neat if it were a houston toad, but that seems unlikely given its endangered status.

gardeners who wish to encourage toads can help them out by creating a toad shelter.
posted by Erica | 11:56 AM

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Get Donkey! Garden. fellow h-town blogger get donkey! has gotten the garden bug. he even has pictures documenting his success.
posted by Erica | 11:44 AM

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Rooting Gardenias, Again. i have four more gardenia cuttings in water, even though i have two successful gardenia rooting experiments in pots.
posted by Erica | 2:14 PM
Insect Identification. the texas cooperative extension's common insects of texas image archive helped me identify the large milkweed bug.
posted by Erica | 2:07 PM
Large Milkweed Bug. recently, i've noticed several of these black and orange bugs on the milkweed. i think they look scary, but apparently they are more-or-less harmless.
posted by Erica | 2:01 PM

Sunday, August 25, 2002

Building a Raised Bed. it won't win any design awards, but i built a raised, brick vegetable / herb bed this weekend. it's about 10' x 3' and 10 inches (4 bricks) deep. before starting, i covered the ground with all the newspapers we had (about one week's worth). after i built up the walls, i filled it with mostly-done compost. sometime in the next few months i'll buy a couple of bags of soil to dump on top.
posted by Erica | 6:33 PM
Mexican Heather Cuttings. this afternoon i potted 14 of the cuttings that had been rooting in water. yes, fourteen. i left three more cuttings in the water. they had roots, but not as many as the other cuttings.

i've concluded that mexican heather is incredibly easy to root. i don't do anything special to the cuttings - just stick them in plain tap water and set in the window sill. replenish water as needed.
posted by Erica | 3:18 PM
green anole Green Anole. found this one lurking in the plumbago. i spotted a total of five anoles in the backyard - two grown females and three youngsters.

i also saw a couple of skinks, but i wasn't quick enough with the camera to get pictures of them.
posted by Erica | 11:48 AM

Friday, August 23, 2002

Rain, Rain, Go Away. i know i shouldn't complain about rain in august - especially not here in texas - but we've had about four more inches since sunday. we are now comfortable with the drainage of our property as we have had no problems with rising water, even though the ground in our neighborhood is saturated.

hopefully the ground will dry out enough today that we can mow the grass this weekend. i don't care so much about the height of the grass, but i want the clippings for my compost.
posted by Erica | 12:27 PM

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Snake! okay, i wasn't really scared since the snake was barely longer than my hand and not even as thick as a pencil. i saw it yesterday while i was digging up the rain lily. at first glance i thought it was a skink, but when i looked more closely it was definitely a snake.

my best guess is the texas brown snake (storeria dekayi texana). darin's reaction upon being told i saw a snake in the backyard - "cool" - even before asking how big it was.
posted by Erica | 3:28 PM

Monday, August 19, 2002

rainlily Rain Lily? walking through the backyard this evening i noticed a splash of hot pink in the middle of the grass. a bit of skimming through my books and searching online and i'm almost positive that it is a rain lily - zephyrantes - of some sort, perhaps z. grandiflora. makes sense, given that we've had lots of rain lately, including another half inch or so yesterday.

despite the charm of having this hot pink flower in the middle of the grass, i decided to dig it up for relocation. after all, it was dangerously close to the dog path and the leaves are so fine that they would just blend in with the grass if the flower were beheaded. i hope it will go ahead and bloom now that it's in a pot (until i decide where to put it).

i found some photos that were very helpful for the identification in a central austin garden (don't miss the rainlily gallery). more useful info is in this gardenweb bulb forum thread: "zephyranthes, rain lilies, culture info request".
posted by Erica | 8:30 PM

Friday, August 16, 2002

Attack of the Star Jasmine. i took advantage of the gently falling rain yesterday - it was keeping the west nile virus mosquitoes at bay - to cut back the star jasmine. once again, it is stretching out tendrils to ensnare unwary passers-by. my method is simple: extend offending vine, cut back as high as i can reach.
posted by Erica | 6:06 PM
Rain Gauge. to do this weekend: buy a rain gauge. i want to know *exactly* how much rain falls in the yard. between wednesday night (late) and this morning, we had approximately four inches of rain. give or take an inch.

i am happy to report that both front and back yards continue to drain very well.
posted by Erica | 5:57 PM

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Rooting Mexican Heather. three or four of the cuttings now have visible roots. took one week exactly.
posted by Erica | 7:37 PM

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Composting. first of all, the "compost pile" over there in the left column is, in fact, the archive section for past posts. get it? it's the pile of old stuff of dubious worth (my dad's words, not mine).

yesterday i spent some quality time with the compost piles behind the garage. i managed to finally finish moving pile #2 to its "new" spot, thus emptying its original enclosure so that i could move pile #1 there. got about 90% of pile #1 turned into the vacated spot. happily, pile #1 is very nearly, almost totally "finished" compost; it has that nice, clean earthy smell and is almost unrecognizable as leaves, etc. maybe this weekend i'll do something useful with it.

this is what goes into our compost pile: pine needles (ideally, chopped up), vegetable kitchen waste, egg shells (crumbled), pine needles, grass clippings, coffee grounds, leaves and pine needles.

the texas agriculture extension service has lots of composting info.
posted by Erica | 1:29 PM

Thursday, August 08, 2002

You Bet Your Garden. mike mcgrath's radio show is like car talk for gardeners.
posted by Erica | 10:50 PM
Mexican Heather Cuttings. the "near future" i referred to in yesterday's post turned out to be a few hours later.

after i got home i trimmed the largest mexican heather (making it a bit more symmetrical in the process) and put the cuttings (quite a few) in water. my rooting experiment earlier this year took about five weeks from putting the cuttings in water to putting them in dirt.
posted by Erica | 9:09 PM
Mercer Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. for some reason, i was under the impression that mercer arboretum was (1) smaller and (2) farther from where we live. but it's less than half an hour away, so i believe a field trip is in order in the not-too-distant future.
posted by Erica | 8:10 PM

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Mexican Heather. one of the mexican heather plants in the backyard is now approximately one foot in diameter and six inches high - this from a tiny plant that i bought in a 4-inch pot last fall. this location gets lots of sun and the plant has just thrived. sometime in the near future i'll take cuttings from it to root more plantlets. it has also been in constant bloom all summer. no supplementary water, but it does have mulch (unfinished compost) about two inches deep all around it. this plant also has an offspring a few inches away; it's about half the size of the parent plant.

in the bed by the front door are several more mexican heathers: two i bought last fall (4-inch pots) and some babies that i rooted earlier this year. the older plants are each about eight inches in diameter. i think the smaller size relative to the backyard plant is due to the fact that this location doesn't get as much sun. also, although they have been blooming all summer, these plants don't seem to have as many flowers as the ones that get more sun. they are, nonetheless, quite attractive plants.
posted by Erica | 1:46 PM
More Rain. note to self - 1.5 inches of rain late last saturday (aug. 3).
posted by Erica | 1:39 PM

Saturday, August 03, 2002

July Flowers...

coleus, basil and sage would be blooming if i didn't pinch the flower buds as they appear. ixora would be blooming but i pruned them.
posted by Erica | 7:04 PM
Gripeweed / Leaf-Flower / Little Mimosa / Cannonball Weed / Gale-of-the-Wind. this is a cute, innocuous looking weed. it pops up in some of my beds but is easily pulled out.
posted by Erica | 6:19 AM
Weed Menace Spreading. as if west nile virus infected mosquitoes weren't enough for a gardener to worry about.
posted by Erica | 6:11 AM

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i enjoy working in our flowerbeds and doing general yardwork, so i'm always collecting bits and pieces of information and ideas. this is where i collect my info and ideas.


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